Over the last 18 years of recruiting I have read thousands of CVs. Your CV, or résumé, gives an insight into the person you are.
The aim should be twofold: Firstly, allow software to identify specific key-words; Secondly, enable an employer ascertain your relevance for a role in less than a minute.
Whether you are a global CEO or have just two year's experience, the following five areas will have an impact:
- DO have a short summary. Two or three lines are sufficient. What are you looking to do next and why?
- DON’T include reference details or “references available on request”. This is unnecessary and the best employers willl always ask
- DO include reasons for leaving jobs within the last ten years which lasted less than two years. Be honest and factual without sounding bitter!
- DON’T include spelling or grammar mistakes – get someone to read it through! I would not personally hire someone who presented as careless before they were even hired.
KISS: KEEP IT SHORT & SIMPLE
- DO keep to one or two pages. Use concise, relevant information including key words which may be picked up by a computer as well as by a human being. A CEO of a luxury retail firm recently excluded a C level candidate who presented an 8 page CV.
- DON’T include irrelevant information such as education before university or employment details from a decade ago (company name, title and dates are sufficient)
- DO include a one-line description of employers including industry / sector and product lines. Can someone find out in an instant what that organisation does?
- DON’T write a whole paragraph describing or even selling your current or former employer. A Senior Manager presented a CV describing the competitor of a prospective employer as the "most prestigious in the industry." Ouch!
FOCUS ON ACHIEVEMENTS
- DO focus on where you added value more than listing job duties Prospective employers want to know whether
- DON’T cut and paste a job description or go into detail for something over a decade ago
- DO quantify achievements where possible: Eg in sales: what revenue did you earn? In accounting: what cost or time savings did you achieve?
- DON’T talk about achievements in High School if you have worked more than two years after graduation. I was proud of being top of the class in Latin when I was 14 but it wouldn't appear on my CV now!
WRITE IN THE THIRD PERSON.
- DO write in the third person
- DON’T use “I”, “my”, “we”, or “our”
- DON’T repeat your name throughout the CV more than once "John helped transform the " sounds pretentious!
- DO use simple phrasing. Eg “Reduced costs by …” rather than “She reduced” or “Sarah reduced” This saves you space and reads much better
MAKE IT PERSONAL
- DO include hobbies, voluntary work, teams you belong to or cultural - and team-building activities. There could be an alignment between their culture and your personality and values.
- DON’T include marital status, political views or religious beliefs unless relevant. I have (sadly) known people to discriminate, sometimes illegaly, with this information.
- DO include links to relevant social media – especially LinkedIn. Always ensure your LinkedIn is up to date and has a professional photograph on it.
- DON’T include a photo on your CV if it isn’t relevant, looks unprofessional or doesn’t look like you!